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Mary, not without secret fears, for the
Sheriff of the town was ever his enemy. However, there he was and
there he meant to stay.

He knelt down before the great cross in the sight of all the people,
but none knew him save one monk only, and he stole out of church and
ran to the Sheriff, and bade him come quickly and take his foe.

The Sheriff was not slow to do the monk's bidding, and, calling his men
to follow him, he marched to the church. The noise they made in
entering caused Robin to look round. "Alas, alas," he said to himself,
"now miss I Little John."

But he drew his two-handed sword and laid about him in such wise that
twelve of the Sheriff's men lay dead before him. Then Robin found
himself face to face with the Sheriff, and gave him a fierce blow; but
his sword broke on the Sheriff's head, and he had shot away all his
arrows. So the men closed round him, and bound his arms.

Ill news travels fast, and not many hours had passed before the
foresters heard that their master was in prison. They wept and moaned
and wrung their hands, and seemed to have gone suddenly mad, till
Little John bade them pluck up their hearts and help him to deal with
the monk.


The next morning Little John hid himself, and waited with a comrade,
Much by name, till he saw the monk riding along the road, with a page
behind him, carrying letters from the Sheriff to the King telling of
Robin's capture.

"Whence come you?" asked Little John, going up to the monk, "and can
you give us tidings of a false outlaw named Robin Hood, who was taken
prisoner yesterday? He robbed both me and my fellow of twenty marks,
and glad should we be to hear of his undoing."

"He robbed me, too," said the monk, "of a hundred pounds and more, but
I have laid hands on him, and for that you may thank me."

"I thank you so much that, with your leave, I and my friend will bear
you company," answered Little John; "for in this forest are many wild
men who own Robin Hood for leader, and you ride along this road at the
peril of your life."

They went on together, talking the while, when suddenly Little John
seized the horse by the head and pulled down the monk by his hood.

"He was my master," said Little John,
"That you have brought to bale,
Never shall you come at the King
For to tell him that tale."

At these words the monk uttered loud cries, but Little John took no
heed of him, and smote off his head, as Much had already smitten off
that of the page, lest he should carry the news of what had happened
back to the Sheriff. After this they buried the bodies, and, taking
the letters, carried them themselves to the King.

When they arrived at the Palace, in the presence of the King, Little
John fell on his knees and held the letter out. "God save you, my
liege lord," he said; and the King unfolded the letters and read them.

"There never was yeoman in Merry England I longed so sore to see," he
said. "But where is the monk that should have brought these letters?"

"He died by the way," answered Little John; and the King asked no more

Twenty pounds each he ordered his treasurer to give to Much and to
Little John, and made them yeomen of the crown. After which he handed
his own seal to Little John and ordered him to bear it to the Sheriff,
and bid him without delay bring Robin Hood unhurt into his presence.

Little John did as the King bade him, and the Sheriff, at sight of the
seal, gave him and Much welcome, and set a feast before them, at which
John led him to drink heavily. Soon he fell asleep, and then the two
outlaws stole softly to the prison. Here John ran the porter through
the body for trying to stop his entrance, and, taking the keys, hunted
through the cells until he had found Robin. Thrusting a sword into his
hand Little John whispered to his master to follow him, and they crept
along till they reached the lowest part of the city wall, from which
they jumped and were safe and free.

"Now, farewell," said Little John, "I have done you a good turn for an
ill." "Not so," answered Robin Hood, "I make you master of my men and
me," but Little John would hear nothing of it. "I only wish to be your
comrade, and thus it shall be," he replied.

"Little John has beguiled us both," said the King, when he heard of the



Now the King had no mind that Robin Hood should do as he willed, and
called his Knights to follow him to Nottingham, where they would lay
plans how best to take captive the felon. Here they heard sad tales of
Robin's misdoings, and how of the many herds of wild deer that had been
wont to roam the forest in some places scarce one remained. This was
the work of Robin Hood and his merry men, on whom the King swore
vengeance with a great oath.

"I would I had this Robin Hood in my hands," cried he, "and an end
should soon be put to his doings." So spake the King; but an old
Knight, full of days and wisdom, answered him and warned him that the
task of taking Robin Hood would be a sore one, and best let alone.

The King, who had seen the vanity of his hot words the moment that he
had uttered them, listened to the old man, and resolved to bide his
time, if perchance some day Robin should fall into his power.

All this time, and for six weeks later that he dwelt in Nottingham, the
King could hear nothing of Robin, who seemed to have vanished into the
earth with his merry men, though one by one the deer were vanishing too!

At last one day a forester came to the King, and told him that if he
would see Robin he must come with him and take five of his best
Knights. The King eagerly sprang up to do his bidding, and the six men
clad in monks' clothes mounted their palfreys and rode down to the
Abbey, the King wearing an Abbot's broad hat over his crown, and
singing as he passed through the green wood.

Suddenly at the turn of a path Robin and his archers appeared before

"By your leave, Sir Abbot," said Robin, seizing the King's bridle, "you
will stay a while with us. Know that we are yeomen, who live upon the
King's deer, and other food have we none. Now you have abbeys and
churches, and gold in plenty; therefore give us some of it, in the name
of holy charity."

"I have no more than forty pounds with me," answered the King, "but
sorry I am it is not a hundred, for you should have had it all."

So Robin took the forty pounds, and gave half to his men, and then told
the King he might go on his way. "I thank you," said the King, "but I
would have you know that our liege lord has bid me bear you his seal,
and pray you to come to Nottingham."

At this message Robin bent his knee.

"I love no man in all the world
So well as I do my King";

he cried, "and Sir Abbot, for thy tidings, which fill my heart with
joy, to-day thou shalt dine with me, for love of my King". Then he led
the King into an open place, and Robin took a horn and blew it loud,
and at its blast seven score of young men came speedily to do his will.

"They are quicker to do his bidding than my men are to do mine," said
the King to himself.

Speedily the foresters set out the dinner, venison, and white bread,
and the good red wine, and Robin and Little John served the King.
"Make good cheer," said Robin, "Abbot, for charity, and then you shall
see what sort of life we lead, that so you may tell our King."

When he had finished eating, the archers took their bows, and hung
rose-garlands up with a string, and every man was to shoot through the
garland. If he failed, he should have a buffet on the head from Robin.

Good bowmen as they were, few managed to stand the test. Little John
and Will Scarlett, and Much, all shot wide of the mark, and at length
no one was left in but Robin himself and Gilbert of the Wide Hand.
Then Robin fired his last bolt, and it fell three fingers from the
garland. "Master," said Gilbert, "you have lost, stand forth and take
your punishment."

"I will take it," answered Robin, "but, Sir Abbot, I pray you that I
may suffer it at your hands."

The King hesitated. "It did not become him," he said, "to smite such a
stout yeoman," but Robin bade him smite on; so he turned up his sleeve,
and gave Robin such a buffet on the head that he rolled upon the ground.

"There is pith in your arm," said Robin. "Come, shoot a main with me."
And the King took up a bow, and in so doing his hat fell back and Robin
saw his face.

[Illustration: There is pith in your arm said Robin Hood]

"My lord the King of England, now I know you well," cried he, and he
fell on his knees and all the outlaws with him. "Mercy I ask, my lord
the King, for my men and me."

"Mercy I grant," then said the King, "and therefore I came hither, to
bid you and your men leave the greenwood and dwell in my Court with me."

"So shall it be," answered Robin, "I and my men will come to your
Court, and see how your service liketh us."



"Have you any green cloth," asked the King, "that you could sell to
me?" and Robin brought out thirty yards and more, and clad the King and
his men in coats of Lincoln green. "Now we will all ride to
Nottingham," said he, and they went merrily, shooting by the way.

The people of Nottingham saw them coming, and trembled as they watched
the dark mass of Lincoln green drawing near over the fields. "I fear
lest our King be slain," whispered one to another, "and if Robin Hood
gets into the town there is not one of us whose life is safe"; and
every man, woman, and child made ready to fly.

The King laughed out when he saw their fright, and called them back.
Right glad were they to hear his voice, and they feasted and made
merry. A few days later the King returned to London, and Robin dwelt
in his Court for twelve months. By that time he had spent a hundred
pounds, for he gave largely to the Knights and Squires he met, and
great renown he had for his open-handedness.

But his men, who had been born under the shadow of the forest, could
not live amid streets and houses.

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